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Wednesday, May 9, 2012

LA FAUTE A FIDEL! / BLAME IT ON FIDEL! (2006)

This exceptional Child’s-Point-Of-View charmer was the debut for writer/helmer Julie Gavras (daughter of Costa-Gavras). It did chump-change biz Stateside after the fest circuit and her next, LATE BLOOMERS/’11, hardly showed up at all. This is both perplexing & exasperating. This first film is a near-classic, a lovely, deeply felt & honestly complicated look at a nine yr-old girl, a marvelous Nina Kervel-Bey in her sole credit, who is pulled out of her comfortable upper-middle-class lifestyle & the certainties of Catholic School when her folks become political activists. It’s 1970 and Mom’s moving toward a feminist agenda while her Spanish-born Dad is picking up on the anti-Franco/pro-Allende radicalism his late brother-in-law had fought for. While her kid brother bounces along with all the changes, Nina, already something of a spoiled princess, adds a stubborn negativism to her personality. Gavras does a great job in showing how Nina starts to question her assumptions and how she subtly alters her view on friends, grown-ups & her own evolving ideas about just about every big-picture/small-picture issue. It’s a wonderful journey, for Nina and for us. The film hits a visual peak during a big family argument as Nina grabs her brother by the hand and they dash out of the house, striding away thru Paris as matching cuts keep swapping out the background as they storm off. Gavras occasionally misses her set ups, the characters are tricky to sort out at first, and she doesn’t make enough of the move to a new, smaller apartment, but this is pretty damn fine freshman work.

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